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Written Statements

Volume 506: debated on Friday 5 March 2010

Written Ministerial Statements

Friday 5 March 2010

Children, Schools and Families

Pupils with Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (Teachers)

On 28 September 2009 I asked Toby Salt to carry out a review to identify key barriers to the supply of adequately trained teachers for pupils with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties (SLD and PMLD), and opportunities to improve this supply for the future.

This is an important and timely review, which is a vital part of the Government’s wider significant investment in the SEN sector. I am very grateful for Toby Salt and his review team’s swift and thorough work on this.

The report calls for more to be done to attract and retain specialist teachers to meet the growing demand for their skills, and to build the next generation of teachers with specialist skills. The evidence in the report highlights examples of existing good practice and specialist training, but also significant gaps in specialist knowledge and skills, and opportunities to acquire these, which it recommends be addressed urgently. These include:

improving the range of specialist opportunities offered to trainee and newly qualified teachers, to encourage and inform entry into specialist teaching;

increasing the quality and consistency of specialist professional development opportunities available to experienced teachers in mainstream and special schools, to widen and share specialist skills and build on good practice;

addressing leadership issues in this specialist sector—a disproportionally high level of leaders in special schools are nearing retirement age, whose expertise will need to be replaced over the next five to seven years.

Evidence to inform the review was gathered from teachers, local authorities, training providers, parents and parent networks, social partners and other national organisations, through a public call for evidence and in-depth interviews. Existing data and research were also reviewed, including information on relevant international teacher supply systems. An expert advisory group of specialists in SLD, PMLD and wider SEN issues provided challenge and support to the work.

We accept all of the recommendations in the review and my Department will publish a plan later this month to set out how Toby Salt’s recommendations will be implemented, and how, over the next year, we will develop:

A partnership with Teach First to bring top graduates into specialist teaching. Teacher training pilots will allow more graduates to gain the skills they need to teach these children;

A new six-month specialist course for new teachers to enable them better to prepare for their first job working with children with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties;

New arrangements to collect data on specialist teacher demand and supply to manage supply effectively for the future;

New training on severe learning difficulties, through the TDA, to ensure that all teachers have access to the quality professional development materials that they need to develop their skills

Copies of Toby Salt’s report and our initial response have today been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Defence

Gurkha Pension Scheme (Annual Uplift)

I am pleased to inform the House that with effect from 1 April 2010 there will be an increase in pensions paid through the Gurkha pension scheme of 11.3 per cent. This is in line with inflation in Nepal.

It has always been our policy to ensure that Gurkha pensioners are treated fairly. The Gurkha pension scheme currently costs some £55 million per year and will now rise to £62 million as a result of this uplift.

This increase ensures that Gurkha pensions are kept at a fair and appropriate level and demonstrates our continuing commitment to the Gurkha pension scheme. It also reinforces the UK’s long-standing links with the Government of Nepal, which we greatly value and would wish to maintain.

Health

Basildon and Thurrock University NHS Foundation Trust

Following my statements to the House on 30 November 2009, Official Report, c. 855-870 and 7 January 2010, Official Report, c. 13WS, I wish further to update the House on the situation at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Chris Mellor, acting chair of Monitor, the regulatory body for NHS foundation trusts, has written to me about the progress being made at the trust. His letter dated 19 February 2010 has been copied to all local MPs and has also been placed in the Library.

Monitor has advised that further progress has been made at the trust since December 2009. With the support of the taskforce, the trust board has put in place a series of key performance indicators (KPIs) aimed at focusing attention on the areas of greatest clinical concern.

The trust has responded to specific concerns around hospitalised standardised mortality rations (HSMR), hygiene and children’s services and learning disability services and each of these areas are actively being monitored. The taskforce has reported that progress has been made, especially against HSMR and hygiene. However, concerns remain around the pace and sustainability of progress when the taskforce exits, governance at board level, and board leadership.

Monitor has advised me of one further quality issue since my last statement, which was an outbreak of Legionella affecting two patients at the trust. Legionella is an ongoing risk at the trust and they have significant monitoring and controls in place as a result.

Monitor has advised that while it is somewhat encouraged by the quality improvements that have been made, it is not yet in receipt of all the information required to make a full assessment of the extent and pace of progress. This will be clearer in the next month when Monitor expect to receive the Dr. Foster data on HSMR for December 2009 (these data are subject to a three-month lag time), the outcome of the CQC registration process, further progress against the agreed KPIs and the independent report assessing governance arrangements at the trust.

I will receive regular updates once Monitor’s board has reviewed the trust’s progress and will continue to provide these updates to the House.

Home Department

Justice and Home Affairs Post-Council Statement

The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council was held on 25 and 26 February 2010 in Brussels. My noble Friend, the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Lord Bach and I attended on behalf of the United Kingdom. The following issues were discussed at the Council.

The interior day began with a presentation by Cecilia Malmström, the new Commissioner for Home Affairs, on her forthcoming priorities, which included publishing the results of a study of measures already in place on passenger name records (PNR), which had been promised to the European Parliament, and a new proposal on EU PNR. The Government welcomed the Commissioner’s commitment to the PNR initiative and looked forward to seeing a proposal—in March if possible—highlighting that this should also cover intra-EU flights.

Following this, the Council agreed the internal security strategy (ISS) without amendment. President Van Rompuy had agreed to bring the strategy to the spring European Council. The Government strongly support the ISS, particularly references to an EC organised crime strategy.

The presidency updated the Council on the first COSI (Standing Committee on operational co-operation on internal security) meeting, which will take place on 11 March. Member states identified five key objectives for this committee: a partly operational and partly strategic role; co-ordinating the various agencies in the EU; assuming the functions of the Police Chiefs’ task force; assessing the effectiveness of existing legislative instruments; and providing the Council with regular reports on internal security. The Government have supported the creation of COSI and look forward to its first meeting.

The presidency presented the first draft of the European Pact On International Drug Trafficking. The Government supported this initiative emphasising the need to ensure tangible output, proactive engagement with third countries, a focus on the East to tackle the supply chain, including those responsible at the top, and to take into account ongoing activity and the EU drugs action plan. Work will be taken forward at expert-level working groups, with the intention of agreeing the pact by the end of the Spanish presidency.

The Council discussed briefly the next steps in resolving the Czech Republic-Canada visa situation. An experts’ meeting would take place on 15 March; the Commission urged Canada and the Czech Republic to solve their visa dispute before reporting back to the April JHA Council.

A restricted session looked at the next steps for the US terrorist tracking finance programme, following the European Parliament’s decision to reject the Council decision to conclude the EU-US agreement (SWIFT). Both Justice and Interior Ministers agreed that they wanted a new permanent agreement between the EU and US as soon as possible.

Over lunch, Interior Ministers discussed the current Libya-Switzerland visa dispute. The presidency said events had significantly improved over the previous 10 days, with the short-term goal being the release of the remaining Swiss citizen in prison. Longer term, the requirement would be to address the link between Schengen arrangements and relationships with third countries.

After lunch, the Mixed Committee (with non-EU Schengen States) had a brief discussion on the Schengen Information System II (SIS II). A statement, included in the Council minutes and agreed by member states, indicated that a decision on the future of SIS II would be taken at the April JHA Council following analysis of the results of the first milestone test in January. The presidency and Commission would take all steps necessary to ensure that the required information was made available in order to make a well-informed decision. The Government highlighted that if a decision were taken to terminate SIS II, member states needed to ensure that any chosen alternative had to be a viable option.

The presidency presented draft conclusions on measures for reinforcing the protection of the external border and combating illegal immigration. The Government said this was an important long-term issue for all member states and emphasised co-operation with third countries and combating organised illegal crime as priorities. Successful projects with Turkey and Libya had demonstrated what could be achieved to prevent illegal border crossing but the EU needs also to complement this with increased efforts on returns.

The Commission introduced new draft legislation to strengthen Frontex. The Government welcomed Frontex’s work to date and hoped the new instrument would include measures to enable our officers to continue to participate in joint operations. The Government also looked forward to Frontex doing more work in assisting returns in future and welcomed stronger Frontex co-operation with third countries, but regretted the lack of a provision to use personal data (which was critical in tackling the criminal gangs facilitating illegal migration). The Commission said it would carry out an overview of the EU-wide data exchange infrastructure before proposing anything concrete on personal data exchange for Frontex.

Finally, the Frontex executive director gave a presentation on the current situation at the EU’s external border and new work programme initiatives for 2010.

During the day the Council also adopted the A points where the UK national member to Eurojust, Aled Williams, was confirmed as the new president of Eurojust. Malta was agreed as the site of the European asylum support office.

The justice day began with the new Commissioner for Freedom, Security and Justice, Viviane Reding, deliver a short presentation of her work. The presidency then outlined the state of play on the negotiations on a proposed directive on the European protection order, designed to protect victims of domestic violence. The Government confirmed their support for the objectives of the proposal and thanked the presidency for its work.

The presidency then provided Justice Ministers with information about the state of play on the negotiations on the proposed directive on interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings. The Government support this proposal and, following a discussion, the presidency concluded that it would give priority to reaching a rapid agreement.

The Council adopted the updated model agreement on joint investigation teams (JITs). The Government fully support this agreement which is based on practical experience and good practice.

During a presentation and debate on EU accession to the European convention of human rights, the presidency emphasised their intention to move the accession process along as quickly as possible. The Government, and all other member states that intervened, expressed support for accession as soon as possible and for early agreement on an appropriate mandate for negotiations with the Council of Europe.

Police Use of Firearms in England and Wales (2008-09)

The latest figures from 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009 show that:

The number of police operations in which firearms were authorised was 19,951—an increase of 57 (0.3 per cent.) on the previous year.

The number of authorised firearms officers (AFO’s) was 6,868—an increase of 88 (1.3 per cent.) officers overall on the previous year.

The number of operations involving armed response vehicles was 16,564—an increase of 1,139 (7.4 per cent.) on the previous year.

The police discharged a conventional firearm in four incidents (down from seven incidents in 2007-08).

Full details are set out in the tables below:

Table 1: Number of operations in which firearms were authorised

Year

2001-2

2002-3

2003-4

2004-5

2005-6

2006-7

2007-8

2008-9

AVON & SOMERSET

195

262

311

333

247

285

328

339

BEDFORDSHIRE

237

301

442

475

575

663

1,217

1,229

CAMBRIDGESHIRE

114

57

104

241

201

207

316

460

CHESHIRE

419

451

397

358

367

340

317

269

CLEVELAND

37

170

453

530

657

293

577

667

CITY OF LONDON

40

131

364

404

323

239

365

63

CUMBRIA

71

77

72

152

112

92

92

86

DERBYSHIRE

275

401

369

287

305

223

211

310

DEVON & CORNWALL

101

96

112

71

84

80

143

170

DORSET

184

193

231

223

263

354

258

369

DURHAM

89

83

156

144

291

340

206

181

ESSEX

323

312

275

296

432

245

529

529

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

165

185

127

176

229

280

162

132

GTR MANCHESTER

580

518

507

461

478

481

497

524

HAMPSHIRE

198

162

208

237

289

352

382

362

HERTFORDSHIRE

112

172

195

185

187

280

303

343

HUMBERSIDE

297

187

183

206

362

235

209

123

KENT

115

137

207

163

219

170

202

280

LANCASHIRE

232

238

318

241

240

410

388

281

LEICESTERSHIRE

300

268

295

260

363

334

318

347

LINCOLNSHIRE

477

392

386

294

220

157

158

133

MERSEYSIDE

1,020

628

751

733

669

727

829

556

METROPOLITAN

2,447

3,199

3,563

2,964

4,711

3,878

4,948

5,044

NORFOLK

175

200

178

195

175

153

174

274

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

43

138

148

158

137

156

159

120

NORTHUMBRIA

1,440

1,275

1,140

977

611

332

229

154

NORTH YORKSHIRE

92

100

147

185

183

282

329

289

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

384

452

459

408

394

289

270

245

SOUTH YORKSHIRE

258

463

484

546

749

737

628

538

STAFFORDSHIRE

232

281

255

216

171

250

244

209

SUFFOLK

163

270

251

153

202

256

193

237

SURREY

245

247

203

151

222

222

375

479

SUSSEX

248

204

280

187

190

201

331

331

THAMES VALLEY

179

167

195

289

427

264

293

344

WARWICKSHIRE

130

149

164

124

180

162

150

145

WEST MERCIA

117

91

197

162

122

155

202

171

WEST MIDLANDS (1)

822

902

1,377

1,264

1,044

1,557

1,063

1,109

WEST YORKSHIRE

757

604

575

853

1,335

1,272

1,130

1,367

WILTSHIRE

45

58

63

88

139

226

128

158

DYFED POWYS

28

29

28

51

63

72

155

92

GWENT

20

37

40

81

94

133

334

152

NORTH WALES

302

259

197

223

350

340

259

185

SOUTH WALES

283

281

250

236

279

308

293

555

TOTAL

13,991

14,827

16,657

15,981

18,891

18,032

19,894

19,951

Source: See Notes for tables

1. Revised figures for 2007-8 from West Midlands Police

Table 2: Number of authorised firearms officers (AFOs)

Year

2001-2

2002-3

2003-4

2004-5

2005-6

2006-7

2007-8

2008-9

AVON & SOMERSET

116

84

122

118

117

103

123

127

BEDFORDSHIRE

48

53

58

56

59

57

53

50

CAMBRIDGESHIRE

56

71

60

60

50

46

49

51

CHESHIRE

81

89

75

76

73

80

72

88

CLEVELAND

85

80

95

100

100

105

97

83

CITY OF LONDON

73

72

86

89

86

45

49

50

CUMBRIA

92

87

89

90

89

90

97

86

DERBYSHIRE

80

69

70

74

75

69

61

61

DEVON & CORNWALL

108

115

132

123

122

132

142

146

DORSET

57

59

60

64

62

67

71

79

DURHAM

86

102

97

103

100

102

89

82

ESSEX

180

184

186

202

205

220

225

223

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

71

80

82

93

92

94

95

97

GTR MANCHESTER

219

202

205

187

245

217

250

296

HAMPSHIRE

87

94

94

92

97

83

85

93

HERTFORDSHIRE

46

47

50

53

52

49

53

50

HUMBERSIDE

96

96

96

101

92

83

87

80

KENT

113

93

90

94

94

98

87

110

LANCASHIRE

138

129

122

115

123

103

143

105

LEICESTERSHIRE

69

68

51

53

59

67

64

73

LINCOLNSHIRE

91

87

78

86

87

75

77

69

MERSEYSIDE

78

84

94

93

129

139

153

154

METROPOLITAN

1,805

1,823

2,060

2,134

2,331

2,584

2,530

2,740

NORFOLK

104

109

114

125

119

127

114

106

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

51

56

52

50

56

59

53

50

NORTHUMBRIA

125

99

90

93

98

92

96

95

NORTH YORKSHIRE

66

64

60

56

78

67

67

63

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

136

131

138

138

149

146

137

133

SOUTH YORKSHIRE

92

100

98

122

116

118

106

99

STAFFORDSHIRE

71

63

67

76

70

82

82

75

SUFFOLK

90

80

96

88

84

78

74

67

SURREY

62

48

53

49

51

45

54

54

SUSSEX

120

141

134

130

129

129

123

123

THAMES VALLEY

156

180

172

176

180

186

180

180

WARWICKSHIRE

50

51

46

53

55

59

63

66

WEST MERCIA

125

131

139

141

152

133

163

99

WEST MIDLANDS

111

110

124

134

145

175

177

165

WEST YORKSHIRE

116

132

140

130

150

148

147

135

WILTSHIRE

71

78

80

74

72

69

67

74

DYFED POWYS

77

62

58

79

68

72

67

63

GWENT

57

60

71

74

86

64

63

54

NORTH WALES

83

75

73

65

57

56

57

53

SOUTH WALES

138

125

139

134

130

115

138

121

TOTAL

5,776

5,763

6,096

6,243

6,584

6,728

6,780

6,868

Source: See Notes for tables

Table 3: Number of operations involving armed response vehicles (ARVs)

Year

2001-2

2002-3

2003-4

2004-5

2005-6

2006-7

2007-8

2008-9

AVON & SOMERSET

173

215

249

312

167

192

292

231

BEDFORDSHIRE

172

269

414

419

534

639

1,171

1,188

CAMBRIDGESHIRE

43

45

155

172

160

172

221

366

CHESHIRE

523

337

356

773

807

793

642

221

CLEVELAND

13

63

86

154

285

290

554

661

CITY OF LONDON

39

131

364

275

234

183

200

63

CUMBRIA

53

45

65

134

90

72

74

56

DERBYSHIRE

253

363

312

254

257

183

187

252

DEVON & CORNWALL

76

32

94

54

54

76

120

138

DORSET

182

180

215

195

246

322

238

347

DURHAM

57

66

96

91

256

204

192

164

ESSEX

165

176

138

138

155

224

226

391

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

140

166

109

121

145

213

147

120

GTR MANCHESTER

528

406

440

364

306

214

196

460

HAMPSHIRE

116

108

128

167

178

270

271

247

HERTFORDSHIRE

81

129

157

155

160

226

262

311

HUMBERSIDE

273

170

158

184

335

232

183

94

KENT

89

132

193

124

183

373

364

325

LANCASHIRE

192

185

273

228

232

383

313

279

LEICESTERSHIRE

292

232

269

232

328

313

268

332

LINCOLNSHIRE

470

367

355

276

210

147

153

128

MERSEYSIDE

974

547

687

677

611

644

734

445

METROPOLITAN

1,667

2,447

2,423

2,322

2,572

2,770

2,303

3,283

NORFOLK

157

186

169

163

149

133

165

252

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

25

90

99

89

101

119

127

117

NORTHUMBRIA

1,349

1,204

1,063

893

585

299

199

129

NORTH YORKSHIRE

60

67

110

144

208

268

318

287

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE

333

397

404

336

342

256

246

197

SOUTH YORKSHIRE

221

280

322

438

632

522

493

387

STAFFORDSHIRE

208

241

212

183

154

222

231

192

SUFFOLK

116

160

194

119

149

204

148

206

SURREY

225

240

190

140

204

209

380

469

SUSSEX

189

171

250

163

162

165

311

248

THAMES VALLEY

174

167

179

265

355

227

254

292

WARWICKSHIRE

104

31

138

102

144

121

113

100

WEST MERCIA

100

111

241

152

94

120

121

128

WEST MIDLANDS (1)

563

592

975

952

745

518

716

739

WEST YORKSHIRE

609

565

543

656

1,040

1,048

1,098

1,361

WILTSHIRE

43

39

28

54

124

190

359

499

DYFED POWYS

28

29

28

48

55

72

135

80

GWENT

16

16

23

74

85

109

257

138

NORTH WALES

265

198

153

180

299

295

221

156

SOUTH WALES

218

253

161

165

223

283

222

485

TOTAL

11,574

11,848

13,218

13,137

14,355

14,515

15,425

16,564

Source: See Notes for tables

1. Revised figures for 2007-8 from West Midlands Police

Table 4: Number of incidents where conventional firearms were discharged

Year

2001-2

2002-3

2003-4

2004-5

2005-6

2006-7

2007-8

2008-9

INCIDENTS (1)

11

10

4

5

9

3

7

4

% OF INCIDENTS COMPARED WITH NUMBER OF AUTHORISED OPERATIONS

0.079

0.067

0.024

0.031

0.048

0.017

0.033

0.020

Source: Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)

1. Does not include discharges for animal destruction or discharges during police training

Notes for tables:

Source: Home Office Public Order Unit, based on information aggregated from figures provided by individual police forces as part of the Home Office Annual Data Requirement. This was followed by a further quality assurance process involving the Home Office asking individual forces to verify and sign off their figures.

The information provided is a regular annual update of figures previously published (Official Report, 2 March 2009, Column 39WS), and on the Home Office website:

http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/operational-policing/police-firearms-use-2007-2008.html

Home Office guidance to forces for providing these figures is contained within the booklet “Annual Data Requirement, Police Personnel and Performance Data, Notes for Guidance”. For the purpose of this statistical return AFOs are deemed to be deployed when “they are required to conduct a specific task during which their possession of a firearm (with appropriate authorisation) is a required element” (Chapter 3, paragraph 3.1 “ACPO Manual of Guidance on Police Use of Firearms”).

In addition to the total number of operations, a further sub-category is required regarding those operations where the initial or sole response is by armed response vehicle (ARV).

Each incident will be classed as only one operation regardless of the number of personnel/deployments or tactics employed to deal with the incident.

Deployments also include those incidents where AFOs “self-authorise”

The number of officers authorised to use firearms as at 31 March 2009.

International Development

New Education Strategy

I have deposited in the Library today my Department’s new education strategy, entitled; “Learning For All: DFID’s Education Strategy 2010-2015”. The strategy has been placed in the Libraries of the Houses and an electronically accessible version is available on the DFID website at www.dfid.gov.uk/educationstrategy.

“Learning For All: DFID’s Education Strategy 2010-2015” outlines how DFID will contribute to helping the world’s children realise their full potential through access to a quality basic education for all.

Work and Pensions

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will be held on 8 March 2010 in Brussels. I shall represent the United Kingdom on all items.

The presidency will seek political agreement on a proposal for a Council directive which will implement a social partners’ framework agreement to protect hospital and healthcare workers at risk of injury and infection from medical ‘sharps’ (including needle sticks, scalpels and suture equipment). Most of the requirements are already covered in the UK by a combination of existing health and safety legislation and healthcare specific legislation, codes of practice and guidelines: the UK will agree to the proposal.

The main agenda item will be a Commission presentation, followed by a policy debate on the Commission Communication on EU 2020 (which replaces the Lisbon strategy) published on 3 March. The UK response to the preceding Commission Consultation on EU 2020—‘EU Compact for Jobs and Growth’—proposed creating new jobs and up-skilling or re-skilling the workforce as one of six priorities. I shall stress that the Employment and Social Policy Council must focus on active inclusion of those farthest from the labour market with ownership of the policy and responsibility for delivering results.

The presidency will seek adoption of the Joint Employment Report 2009-2010, and also the Joint Report on Social Protection and Social Inclusion 2010. These annual reports summarise evaluation of member states’ progress and the EU’s employment situation and also key lessons from member states under the open method of co-ordination for social protection and social inclusion. They also look ahead to further planned work. The UK is content.

The presidency will also seek adoption of Council conclusions on the eradication of violence against women, followed by an exchange of views. The UK Government have been working closely with European partners to support the work being progressed on tackling this issue at the European level and welcomes these conclusions.

There will also be an exchange of views, following a presentation by a delegation of Ministers for Research, on conclusions on European researchers’ mobility and careers adopted by the Competitiveness Council (internal market, industry and research). This item reflects work being undertaken under the banner of the European research area, which is designed to advance the so-called “Fifth Freedom”—the free movement of knowledge across Europe. One of its elements is work on researcher careers and mobility, intended to make research an attractive career option across Europe and promote cross-border mobility of researchers. The Competitiveness Council agreed conclusions on careers and mobility on 1 and 2 March; these include sections on social security and pensions issues and the intention is that some of the research Ministers involved will present the conclusions to EPSCO to raise the profile of these issues.

There will also be presentations from the Commission on the latest report on equality between women and men, which the UK welcomes, and also information from the presidency on preparation of the Tripartite Social Summit due to take place before the spring European Council.

Under any other business, the Chairs of the Employment Committee and the Social Protection Committee will give an oral presentation on their 2010 work programmes. There will also be information on conferences held under the Spanish presidency to date.